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That weird ship thing – the one with the four towering beams – we couldn’t quite get our heads around it. So we went to Cammell Lairds to get a closer look.

Turns out it’s the Friedrich Ernestine. And next month, its duties come to an end. We’ll be sad to see it go.

The River Mersey’s seen all shapes of ship come and go in its time. But this £70 million behemoth is probably the most curious. The ‘ship on stilts’ is the first of its kind in the UK. And its weekly plying of our waters has the capacity to stop traffic. Is it a ship? Is it an oil rig? Is it the skeletal structure for some giant, floating city? What, exactly, is its job?

superbig.turbine.4Now we know. The ship has been ferrying wind turbines out to the new Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm in the Mersey Basin for the past year or so.

Once in place, 18 kilometres offshore, the vessel’s four towering pillars reach downwards to clamp onto the marine floor, and raise the ship right out of the water.

At 100 metres long and 49 metres wide, the ship comes with an onboard 1,000 ton lifting crane, ready to position the turbines for the 576 megawatt wind farm in Liverpool Bay.

The turbines’ monopile foundations reach down into a water depth of between 12 and 28 metres – the foundations of the turbines themselves are between 50 and 70 metres long and weigh 700 tonnes.

Once in place, the wind power systems are installed, including tower components, nacelle (engine housing) and rotor star (blades). The Friedrich can transport and install up to six complete sets of turbines in one journey.

So, there. Now you know.

  • Gerry Proctor

    That’s interesting! I’ve spent ages looking at it when alongside the Cruise Liner Terminal and suspected it must have something to do with the wind turbines but now I know the whole story or at least some of it! Thank you once again!

  • david_lloyd

    Here to help, G!